Ask LH: How Can I Fit A Workout Into My Daily Routine?

Dear Lifehacker, I really need to exercise more often. I want to try the Lifehacker Workout, but I just don’t feel like I have the time. I’m up in the morning and right out the door to work, then when I get home I barely have time to eat and relax before I have to go to bed. How can I squeeze a workout into my routine?Signed, Getting Pudgy

Photo by cumidanciki.

Dear Getting Pudgy,

We know how you feel! It can be difficult to carve out time to exercise or take care of yourself when you have so many other responsibilities pulling you in every direction. That said, finding time for a half-hour to an hour-long workout every day doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few ways to hack your schedule so you find the time to work out, or at least force yourself into making the time. After all, your health is important. You should definitely make time for it.

Work Out With Other People

One of the best things about The Lifehacker Workout is that it’s designed to be done with other people. Even if you’re alone in your home when you work out, you still have to chart your progress and tell other people how well you’re doing. Use your Twitter followers or Facebook friends to encourage you, and post your workouts to your social networks so your friends can keep up with your activities and cheer you on. (Just don’t spam them!) The encouragement you’ll get from your friends and family cuts both ways, too: when you miss a workout or miss your goals, everyone will see, so you have some real encouragement to keep up the pace. Photo by Deane Thomas Rimerman.

Another way to build on that social motivation is to use a web app or service that encourages social exercise. The Lifehacker Workout uses Fleetly, a social workout tool that’s built to help groups and friends track their workouts, share their progress and engage in a little friendly competition. You may also want to consider a service like Fitocracy that encourages group participation, challenges and social encouragement.

Put It On the Calendar

I know, easier said than done. Still, if your employer thinks boring staff meetings are important enough to put on your calendar every day, don’t you think taking care of yourself is important enough to make your calendar too? Pick a time that you really want to squeeze your workout into, and just schedule it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always move it later. I’m a fan of scheduling a workout right after work, so you get the benefit of having something to force you to stop working and leave the office. The same applies if you schedule your workouts first thing in the morning: give yourself something rewarding and energising to do before you start the day. Either way, clearing out a specific time, bookending other important activities and putting it on the calendar — complete with reminders — will make sure it stays on your radar and you don’t forget it.

Get a Workout Buddy

Online encouragement will only take you so far. If you really want to make sure you get a workout into your regular routine is to schedule your workouts with another person. The two of you can encourage and support each other, and if you ever try to sneak out of your daily workout, your friend can make sure to drag you to the gym (and vice versa.) Plus, making sure to schedule your workout with a buddy for every day after work, for example, makes sure that you’ll actually make time to hit the gym. You’ll quickly find yourself more inclined to hit the gym if there’s someone else involved that may be disappointed if you don’t show up. Photo by Maria Ly.

Find Exercise That You Enjoy

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure you find an exercise regimen that you’ll actually look forward to doing every morning or every other day. If you hate running but love biking, hit the stationary bike instead of the treadmill. If you love swimming, find a gym with a pool where you can swim every day after work. You can even sweeten the pot by combining your exercise with entertainment. Make your workout time the time you listen to your favourite podcasts or audiobooks, or watch your favourite TV shows on TiVo. It’s difficult enough to get motivated enough to exercise when you have a busy schedule. Make those workouts something you’ll actually look forward to doing, and you’ll be more likely to do them. With luck, eventually you’ll look forward to them at the end of a long day or a great way to jumpstart your morning.

While there’s no way to actually add hours to the day or make your daily routine any less hectic, there are ways to make sure you step back, find a little time to squeeze in some exercise — even if it’s only a half-hour after work, and put it on the calendar so you never forget it. Once you put it on the calendar, all you have to do is make sure your workout is enjoyable enough that you’ll want to go, and social enough that you have a reason to go. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t find the time to exercise sooner.


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